|Pigeons has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, two-dozen national and regional Public Radio programs, favorably reviewed by the New York Times (twice), Esquire Magazine, Time, Audubon, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Salon, and chosen by Border Books for its Original Voices program.
"Few of us who live in cities, besieged by flights of what we like to call winged rats, can rightly be described as philoperisterons. But King George the Fifth of England was. So was Charles Darwin. Julius Reuter was too, though for purely commercial reasons. And so also, and for which we should all be thankful, is Andrew Blechman, writer. Mr. Blechman positively loves pigeons - but as graceful and ancient grey doves, not as either targets or as food. In this breezy, quirky, endlessly entertaining book, he tells us just why - and explains why philoperisteronicism is, generally speaking, a Good Thing."
—Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and The Madman
“Do yourself a favor by reading Blechman's charming book. For once, a subtitle that doesn't exaggerate!” —The New York Times Sunday Book Review
The Fascinating Saga of the World’s Most Revered and Reviled Bird
They've been worshipped as fertility goddesses, and used as symbols of peace. Domesticated since the dawn of man, they've been used as crucial communicators in war by every major historical superpower from ancient Egypt to America and are credited with saving thousands of lives. A pigeon delivered the results of the first Olympics in 776 B.C. and a pigeon first brought the news of Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo more than 2,500 years later. Charles Darwin relied heavily upon pigeons to help formulate and support his theory of evolution. Yet pigeons are reviled today as "rats of the sky" without just cause. How did we come to misunderstand one of mankind's most helpful and steadfast companions?
Author Andrew Blechman traveled across America and Europe to meet with pigeon fanciers and pigeon haters in a quest to chronicle the pigeon's transformation from beloved friend to feathered outlaw. Starting with a Brooklyn man's quest to win The Main Event (the pigeon world's equivalent of the Kentucky Derby), Andrew attends a pigeon breeders convention dedicated to breeding the perfect bird and also participates in a pigeon shoot where participants pay $150 to shoot live pigeons. From tracking down Mike Tyson, the nation's most famous pigeon lover, to spending time with Queen Elizabeth's Royal Pigeon Handler in England, and shedding light on a radical "pro-pigeon underground" in New York City, Pigeons tells for the first time the remarkable story behind this seemingly unremarkable bird.
Praise for Pigeons
"If ever there was a creature that was due a revisionist assesment, it is most certainly the lowly pigeon. Andrew Blechman's wonderful book gives the pigeon its due, but along the way reveals as much about humans -- with our bizarre, sometimes obsessive love-hate relationship to this most enduring of birds -- as the pigeons themselves. In so doing, he has written one of those rare and magical books that causes the reader to see the world differently. Read Pigeons and you'll never look at Trafalgar Square, the Piazza San Marco or Bryant Park the same way again."
—Warren St. John, author of "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip Into the Heart of Fan Mania"
"Andrew Blechman's writing is graceful and swift like his subject. The ubiquitous pigeon, whose image spans the lows and highs of human imagination, finds a superb chronicler, exegete, partisan, and redeemer in this book....This book proves, once again, that magic is near at hand, that it can feed from our hands, and that there are mottled angels in our midst. Read Pigeons—it's marvelous."
—Andrei Codrescu, author of New Orleans, Mon Amour & commentator for NPR's All Things Considered
"I've been as guilty as anybody of looking down on the lowly Rock Dove. But Andrew Blechman's Pigeons woke me up. Informative and well-written, if anybody can read his book and still harbor contempt for pigeons, I have to wonder if there is hope for human beings."
—Mark Bittner, author of The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
"You can love them or hate them, and even shoot, feed, race, or eat them, but if you ever ignore pigeons as a major natural force, you will surely be splattered upon. After trailing these remarkable creatures from the rooftops of Queens to the castle of a queen, Andrew Blechman has bagged a story that is fun, warm, and full of wonder."
—Mark Obmascik, author, The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession